When the first dawn of day appeared they were on their way again, and soon found that the trees under which they had slept formed part of the forest. Through occasional openings, formed by trees which had fallen from age or tempest, they obtained a view of the surrounding country, and were enabled to form an idea where lay the camp which they had left two days before.
They had not proceeded far when they heard in the distance behind them the shouting of men and the barking of dogs, and knew that the enemy were upon their track. They ran now at the top of their speed, convinced, however, that the natives, who would have to follow the track, could not travel as fast as they did. Suddenly Malchus stopped.
“Listen!” he said. They paused, and far down the hillside heard the distant sound of a horn. “Those must be our men,” Malchus exclaimed, “they are searching for us still; Hannibal must have allowed them to stay behind when the army proceeded on its way.”
In another half hour the horn sounded close at hand and they were speedily among a body of Malchus’ own followers, who received them with shouts of delight. The men were utterly worn out, for they had searched continuously day and night from the time they had missed their leader, sometimes high up among the hills, sometimes among the lower valleys. The party which he met comprised but a fourth of the band, for they had divided into four parties, the better to range the country.
They were now ascending the hills again at a distance of two miles apart, and messengers were at once sent off to the other bodies to inform them that Malchus had returned. Malchus quickly recounted to his men the story of what had befallen them, and then bade them lie down to rest while he and Nessus kept watch.
The natives who had been in pursuit did not make their appearance, having doubtless heard the horn which told of the approach of a body of the Carthaginians. In two hours the whole of the band were collected, and after a few hours’ halt, to enable the men to recover from their long fatigue and sleeplessness, Malchus put himself at their head and they marched away to join the main body of their army, which they overtook two days later.
Malchus was received with great delight by his father and Hannibal, who had given him up for lost. Nessus had over and over again recounted all the details of their adventure to his comrades, and the quickness of Malchus at hitting upon the stratagem of returning to the cave, and so escaping from a position where escape seemed well nigh impossible, won for him an even higher place than before in the admiration of his followers.